East Xtra: 'Bradleys' cap season of success
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People sometimes ask me if my name is actually Bradley or Bradford. I quickly tell them, "No. It's just plain old Brad."
Well, this week, I'm going to go against my words and try something new. With that, I present to you "The Bradleys." These awards -- which have no cash value -- are being given out to honor some of the top performers of the 2012 WPIAL football season.
• MVP -- Thomas Woodson, Gateway. After putting up solid, but unspectacular numbers in his first two years as a starter, Woodson elevated himself to the upper echelon of WPIAL quarterbacks by throwing for 2,395 yards and 23 touchdowns in helping the Gators win the Class AAAA Foothills Conference title. Woodson, a senior and Arizona recruit, had perhaps his best game in a 62-14 win against Norwin, completing 10 of 13 passes for 280 yards and five first-half touchdown passes. In a 42-7 triumph against Altoona, Woodson threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Woodson was third on the team with 245 yards rushing and ran for three scores.
• Offensive player of the year -- Cole Bush, Burrell. You've heard of Bush's Baked Beans. Well, this Bush baked teams. Bush had a gigantic senior season for the Bucs, who went 8-2 and earned a share of the Class AA Allegheny Conference title. In the regular season, Bush ran for 1,710 yards and 30 touchdowns, ranking him second in the WPIAL in both categories. He ran for at least 120 yards in all but one game, putting up a 295-yard, six-touchdown effort in a 56-35 victory at Kittanning. Bush rushed for at least four touchdowns four times and ended his senior season with 1,794 yards and 33 touchdowns.
• Defensive player of the year -- Montae Nicholson, Gateway. Nicholson showed why he is regarded as one of the top juniors in the state by bursting onto the scene with a terrific season in which he was a force in the Gateway secondary. The Gators scored eight defensive touchdowns, and Nicholson had three of them. He scored on an interception return, fumble return and added a fumble recovery in the end zone. Nicholson's impact wasn't just limited to defense. He was Gateway's second-leading receiver with 25 catches for 653 yards and six touchdowns. Nicholson already has 12 scholarship offers, including ones from Pitt, West Virginia and Michigan.
• Coach of the year -- Chad Walsh, Valley. Who saw this coming? Walsh, the third Vikings coach in as many seasons, faced the unenviable task of turning around a program that entered the season on a 22-game losing streak. You could say Walsh turned lemons into lemonade. The Vikings not only broke that run of futility -- they did it in a 14-7 win at Deer Lakes in Week 1 -- but also went on to grab a fourth-place finish in the Class AA Allegheny Conference, earning a playoff bid for the first time since 2008. The Vikings, who finished 6-4, won five games in a row at one point and gave conference co-champion Freeport its only conference loss.
• Team of the year -- Woodland Hills. Coach George Novak has guided Woodland Hills to the WPIAL championship game. Yeah, that's not the first time we've heard those words. The Wolverines will take on two-time defending champion North Allegheny in Friday's Class AAAA final. While it's no shocker the Wolverines have made it to the final -- they've won four titles since 1999 -- it's somewhat of a surprise how they've done it. Entering the playoffs as the No. 7 seed after placing third in the Southeastern Conference, the Wolverines upset No. 2 Gateway and No. 3 Upper St. Clair on their way to the championship.
• Jack of all trades -- Seth Miller, Jeannette. Miller likely won't be a Division I player and doesn't get much fanfare, but there were few players who were as valuable to their team. Miller took over the starting quarterback duties from former Jayhawks star Demetrious Cox and led Jeannette to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals for the second year in a row. Miller, a senior, passed for a team-best 778 yards and five touchdowns, was third on the team with 442 yards rushing, scored nine touchdowns, and kicked four field goals and 36 extra points. In addition, Miller returned an interception and fumble for touchdowns defensively.
• Top underclassman -- Tyler Mellors, Mount Pleasant. Mellors is small in stature (5 feet 7, 170 pounds), but his contributions to the Vikings offense was much, much bigger. A junior running back, Mellors showcased his talent and speed by rushing for 1,490 yards and 25 touchdowns. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry and helped the Vikings reach the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. In a 48-28 first-round win at Burrell, Mellors ran for 185 yards and scored four touchdowns for the second week in a row. He began the season by rushing for 496 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games.
First Published November 21, 2012 12:00 am